Learning to Speak Again.

Learning to Speak Again.

Learning to Speak Again: dealing with a stroke

Every day as a writer, as an artist, every new piece is a new attempt to communicate- an often frustrating attempt to express yourself in a language with few well defined words.

I remember as a child sliding into the mental space that let me see things differently.More clearly. The patterns of light shifting across a blade of grass. The textures and colors.

But no matter how clearly I saw it, there was always the struggle to communicate this wonderful (and sometimes awful) world to the people I knew.

I would open my mouth, but the REAL words wouldn’t come. Pure frustration. Sometimes I felt raw anger that others couldn’t understand. To try and express the overwhelming patterns of beauty wasn’t possible for me in words- I would grasp and it would slide though my fingers. I had a desperate need to share these patterns. To help others see them. Appreciate them. Sing with them. I guess that was what drew me towards writing, art & photography- I could finally share the lines and swirls of rapturous movement, color and light I’d sense in the world- sharing some little part of what was singing to and through me.

Since I’d “grown up”, I hadn’t given this feeling of struggle, frustration and desperation much thought for a long while. The last couple of decades at least. But then something changed to wake me up again.

It was a little rip, a tiny rupture in a vessel in the brain. Suddenly a dearly loved friend of mine was pulled down out of her life and thrust into a hospital bed with tubes erupting from all over her body. She ‘slept’ for 2 months. The day she woke up was amazing, joyful… and somehow unreal.

She knew who we were, but she had lost the power to express it. I could see the struggle in her eyes- so many things she wanted to say, so many questions. But the words, the meanings weren’t there anymore. A connection had been severed. Once it had been so easy to communicate, but now there was only a deep longing and frustration. She knew what she wanted to tell us, but she didn’t have the words.

Now as she goes through physical and speech therapy I can still sense the quiet frustration. Artists speak of “creative block”- but aren’t we all artists? –striving to share our unique views and experience and falling just a little bit (or a lot) short. Even as she learns to speak again, can she ever truly share her experience with us? Or only describe a pale shadow of it to those of us who have never been so locked within our bodies? We are also limited- do we even have the vocabulary to truly ever understand something so far from our everyday life? I can’t understand how hard this must be for her. But, I can try– and maybe trying will widen my view of life… even just a little bit.

I’ve been wondering about my purpose in life… and I think this had made it just a little more clear. I have a commitment to do my best to try and communicate all the beauty and ugliness, all the light and dark that I see- to make it more real and tangible to others- to reach out and share my experience of the world with others- hopefully widening their view- if even just a little bit. If my friend can be so brave, then I can only hope to follow her example.

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